Skip to comments.Enforcing border laws will save lives
Posted on 05/29/2002 3:56:04 PM PDT by flamefront
On March 29, Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy David March was shot repeatedly during a routine traffic stop in the quiet suburb of Irwindale. Shortly thereafter, he was pronounced dead at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena.
The victim was a highly respected seven-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department who lived in Santa Clarita with his wife and stepdaughter.
This was a senseless, cowardly act. The suspected killer, 25-year-old Armando Garcia, fired without warning and for no apparent reason.
Garcia has a criminal history involving narcotics and weapons violations (as well as being a suspect in two attempted murders). He is also an illegal alien who the Immigration and Naturalization Service had sent back to his native country on three separate occasions. Each time he returned to the United States to continue his life of crime.
Tragically, this cold-blooded killing could have been avoided had the federal government been serious about enforcing our nation's immigration laws. Despite his criminal background and deportations, every time Garcia was arrested, our federal government -- through the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles -- failed to prosecute him for illegal re-entry.
The law is very clear on this issue: A criminal alien who re-enters the United States after deportation can face up to 20 years in jail.
If the U.S. attorney does not prosecute violent felons who are deported and subsequently re-enter, it makes a mockery of our immigration laws. Criminal aliens who prey on our citizens fear deportation only if deportation carries a price. And that price is prosecution and long imprisonment if they sneak back across the border.
Otherwise, all the laws and all the statements about how tough we are on criminal aliens are meaningless.
The slaying of Deputy March is a case in point. Garcia, after being apprehended for illegally entering the United States, was "voluntarily" returned to Mexico by the INS in 1992. It is not clear whether he actually left the country.
In 1994, following a conviction for narcotics trafficking, Garcia was again taken into INS custody. This time he was formally deported.
Again, Garcia re-entered and in 2000 committed yet another crime. At this point, the U.S. attorney had the opportunity to prosecute Garcia for illegal re-entry following deportation. If he had been convicted, Garcia would have been eligible for at least a 10-year prison term. He would still be behind bars today.
However, the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's Office declined to prosecute Garcia. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case of going easy on criminal aliens.
Back in 1998, I wrote to then-Attorney General Janet Reno to urge more prosecutions of these crimes. I even attached a list of 577 criminals who were not prosecuted after being deported by the INS and returning to California.
The reply I received assured me that the Department of Justice was aggressively enforcing provisions dealing with deported criminal aliens, especially if the underlying crime was a felony.
Despite these assurances, I learned later that each U.S. Attorney's Office has a different policy for prosecuting criminal aliens who re-enter the United States. When Reno was attorney general, the Los Angeles office set a much higher benchmark for prosecution than is called for by the law. The result is that our federal prosecutors are allowing far too many deported criminals loose in our communities.
This failure has terrible consequences, which brings us back to the slaying of Deputy March. He was killed by somebody who should have been in a federal penitentiary instead of on the streets. Garcia had already been convicted of two felonies when he was arrested in 2000. And he had been deported by the INS back in 1994.
Under any reasonable enforcement policy, he should have faced serious jail time for illegal re-entry. Instead, Garcia was again sent back to Mexico. He returned to the Los Angeles area and a law enforcement officer, a husband and parent, was killed.
The laws are already in place and, in most cases, the penalties are sufficient. What is missing is a willingness to enforce the laws on the part of the U.S. Attorney's Office. Before we have more tragedies, it is time for them to do so.
Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Oxnard, represents the 23rd District.
SoCal law enforcement agencies are not to blame. The unyielding and relentless assault on our borders lies squarely on the shoulders of the liberal controlled Assembly and Senate, as well as the countless groups that support them.
The last Republican to occupy the office of governor in California was Pete Wilson. And though he tried (and the voters overwhelmingly approved Prop 187 that could have ended a large part of the lure to the states) immigrant rights and/or advocacy groups defeated it in court.
To blame law enforcement is an entirely erroneous conclusion. Many I know are just as frustrated as you.
It is the adopted policy of several SoCal law enforcement agencies (granted, maybe not the beat cop, but their superiors) not to arrest illegals for immigration violations, and not to report them to the INS. If the police have a known criminal in custody, they should not let them go. They don't let bank robbers go free, do they?
I guess I am wrong in thinking my tax money is actually going to a law enforcement agency to protect the citizens, not the illegals.
I'm sorry but I disagree, In Los Angeles our Sheriff Baca adamantly refuses to enforce immigration laws when possible. He says he doesn't want the illegals to refuse to cooperate with law enforcement, he wants their trust. I think he doesn't want to alienate our new masters, the illegals. It's all about the Sheriff's, and the mayors, and the governors ,and dare I say the Presidents careers. Not what we want, not what is right. I want them out and the Sheriff too.
I think the chances of this happening is very high. After all Ziglar is an open border freak and he has stated that it is too much trouble to round up illegal aliens.
Bush sure knows how to pick 'em huh!!
But lawyers in the Clinton Justice Department (OLC, Office of Legal Counsel) issued an internal opinion prohibiting state and local police from arresting illegal immigrants solely for violations of federal immigration law. The opinion was a farsighted attempt to keep the responsibility for enforcing immigration law where it belongs (according to as informed a source as the U.S. Constitution): at the federal level.
I was speaking of deporting illegals who had a brush with the law, not soley immigration violations. I know the LAPD is not the INS
The Mexican border is a revolving door. Illegals come and go as they please. A few get caught, a few die, but most come right through several times a year.
Thats because he has no authority to do so as described in my previous message.
The brutal murders, rapes, robberies, burglaries and thefts, and drunk driving caused by illegal aliens has left a long trail of American victims.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.